Dental laser. Dental torque wrench. Pluggers. Retractors. Local anesthesia. Dental forceps. Probiotics?
Probiotics may just be the next addition to your dentist's armory. Traditionally, we associate probiotics with gut health and rightly so! They work wonders for gastrointestinal health and even prove to be useful for GI infections or diseases. The last decade of research in probiotics, however, has revealed their benefit beyond gut health. Yes, these living microbes have been shown to support oral health in multiple ways.
Dental Caries: Putting Tooth Decay at Bay
Meet one of the most preventable yet common childhood diseases that can follow you through adulthood. Certain bacteria ferment dietary carbs and the resulting acidic by-products demineralize and destroy the hard dental tissue.
The main bacterial culprits are mutans streptococci, such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Some bacterial probiotic strains, such as Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus lactis, may attach to the surface of teeth and interfere with the growth of these cavity-forming bacteria. 1 Other strains work by producing antimicrobial substances such as bacteriocins, proteinous toxins that stop the growth of unfavorable bacteria. Some probiotics may make enzymes that counteract plaque formation.
For example, new research found that a specific strain - Streptococcus salivarius - cut plaque formation by 50% and saliva levels of cavity-forming mutans streptococci by 75%!
Another study found that long-term use of probiotics that include a strain of L. rhamnosus had significantly fewer cavities and lower saliva counts of cavity-forming bacteria than children that didn't supplement with probioitcs.
Some of the first studies done on probiotics for oral health were for periodontal disease treatment.
Periodontal disease manifests as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or periodontitis (a progressively destructive disease of all supportive tissue of the teeth). The bacteria involved in periodontal disease are sneaky and persistent - they colonize below the gums, bypass the body's defense system, and cause progressive tissue damage.
Results are encouraging. Many researchers have even put probiotics in chewing gum and lozenges to encourage the attachment of probiotic strains that help treat periodontal disease such as L.acidophilus.
Beat Halitosis (aka bad breath)
We all know what garlic, onions, or coffee could do to one's breath. But did you know an improper balance of oral bacteria can do the same? Thankfully, some strains of probiotics have been shown to stop the production of those smelly sulphur compounds some bacteria produce. In fact, some have included these strains in gargling solutions.
Research on probiotics is growing and leading us to a deeper understanding of how they benefit oral health. In the meantime, there are many other well-documented benefits of probiotic bacteria we don't want to ignore.
Remember, in order for a probiotic to be a probiotic, it needs to be alive. A high quality product will provide live organisms in adequate doses to provide the best possibe benefit.
EnergyFirst's probiotic complex contains more than 4 billion live organisms, including the abovementioned Streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus acidophilus.
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